The opening of fun.'s "Some Nights" is so brazenly ambitious you can't help but expect the New York trio to eventually fall flat on their faces. Spoiler alert: They don't. "Some Nights Intro" starts with Nate Ruess' distinctive voice and a simple piano line that builds to an operatic grandeur, calling to mind both Queen and Rufus Wainwright as the former Format front man declares, "Tea parties and Twitter, I've never been so bitter." "We Are Young," an iTunes smash already featured on "Glee" and car commercials, is a massive stadium-ready anthem that will soon take root at a pop radio station near you. It crystallizes what fun. does extraordinarily well, which is taking the familiar and giving it their own modernized twist.
'Reign of Terror'
The super-rock duo Sleigh Bells caused an immediate sensation with their 2010 debut "Treats," a speaker-assaulting blend of blistering drum-machine beats, arena-sized guitar shredding and pep-squad vocals that sounded like Tinkerbell caught in a blast furnace. It worked, improbably, but created a high hurdle for their follow-up, as they had seemingly followed their sound to its logical conclusion right out of the gate. In response, "Reign of Terror" is a more intimate record, processing some of the personal tragedy visited on guitarist Derek Miller's family of late, and a more tender one - if that word can encompass the metallic mountains of sound the group still generates on tracks like "True Shred Guitar" and the swooning "Leader of the Pack." The interplay between Miller's churning riffs and the breathy lyrics of singer Alexis Krauss is more modulated here, creating a separation that dampens the power of their debut's muddy exuberance, but they remain a force to be reckoned with nonetheless.
Brothers Peter and David Brewis of the Sunderland, U.K.-based Field Music make marvelously fussy compositions, with a knack for crafting McCartney-esque micro-symphonies that celebrate the mundane vagaries of life and try to jam an album's worth of ideas into a single song. "Plumb" is a relatively trim 30 minutes of prog-rock-influenced chamber pop, positively burbling with tricky tempo changes, complex guitar lines and thesis-worth lyrics.
The indie rocker, late of Vivian Girls, Crystal Stilts and Dum Dum Girls, turns her garage-pop sound toward the synth end of the spectrum for her new album.